Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center


Research at the Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center focuses on providing the scientific understanding and technologies needed to support and implement sound management and conservation of our Nation's biological resources occurring in Hawai'i and other Pacific island locations.

Spotlight on Research

Spotlight on Research

Learn more about how researchers are tracking how rare plants are responding to changing environmental conditions.

Plant Responses

Featured Scientist

Featured Scientist

PIERC Microbiologist Dr. Carter Atkinson is using new tools to detect emerging threats and rare species in Pacific Island ecosystems.

Atkinson Research


Date published: June 8, 2018

Keeping Track of "Caly"

Caly isn't likely to wonder off off, but with a remote camera and monitoring station online 24-hours a day, USGS and partners at the State of Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife, University of Hawai‘i, and the USFWS can learn how an extremely rare plant is responding to changes in environmental conditions.

Date published: November 22, 2017

Sniffing Out Better Tools for Addressing Avian Botulism

Dogs have great olfactory abilities and wildlife biologists think they can help endangered waterbirds in Hawai‘i. Dogs are being trained to sniff out the endangered ducks (koloa maoli (Anas wyvilliana) and Laysan ducks (A. laysanensis)) that die of avian botulism. 

Date published: July 10, 2017

Hawaiian Birds Rapidly Colonize Young Restoration Forest

Forest birds on the island of Hawaii are responding positively to being restored in one of the largest, ongoing reforestation projects at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, according to a new study released July 10 in the journal Restoration Ecology.


Year Published: 2018

Research and management priorities for Hawaiian forest birds

Hawai‘i's forest birds face a number of conservation challenges that, if unaddressed, will likely lead to the extinction of multiple species in the coming decades. Threats include habitat loss, invasive plants, non-native predators, and introduced diseases. Climate change is predicted to increase the geographic extent and intensity of these...

Paxton, Eben H.; Laut, Megan; Vetter, John P.; Kendall, Steve J.
Paxton, E. H., M. Laut, J. P. Vetter, and S. J. Kendall. 2018. Research and management priorities for Hawaiian forest birds. Condor 120:557–565.

Year Published: 2018

Extreme drought alters frequency and reproductive success of floaters in Willow Flycatchers

Changes in habitat quality, including those caused by extreme events like droughts and floods, could alter costs and benefits of territoriality and thereby the prevalence and reproductive consequences for individuals capable of breeding that do not do so (floaters). We studied floating behavior in a population of Southwestern Willow Flycatchers (...

Theimer, Tad; Sogge, Mark K.; Cardinal, Suzanne N.; Durst, Scott L.; Paxton, Eben H.
Theimer, T. C., M. K. Sogge, S. N. Cardinal, S. L. Durst, and E. H. Paxton. 2018. Extreme drought alters frequency and reproductive success of floaters in willow flycatchers. Auk 135:647–656.

Year Published: 2018

Ecological genomics predicts climate vulnerability in an endangered southwestern songbird

Few regions have been more severely impacted by climate change in the USA than the Desert Southwest. Here, we use ecological genomics to assess the potential for adaptation to rising global temperatures in a widespread songbird, the willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii), and find the endangered desert southwestern subspecies (E. t. extimus) most...

Ruegg, Kristin; Bay, Rachael A.; Anderson, Eric C.; Saracco, James F.; Harrigan, Ryan J.; Whitfield, Mary J.; Paxton, Eben H.; Smith, Thomas B.
Ruegg, K., R. A. Bay, E. C. Anderson, J. F. Saracco, R. J. Harrigan, M. Whitfield, E. H. Paxton, and T. B. Smith. 2018. Ecological genomics predicts climate vulnerability in an endangered southwestern songbird. Ecology Letters 21:1085–1096. Available: